Tag Archives: how long should it take to write a book

The Ideal Writing Pace

19 Jun

Writing is a different experience for everyone. Just check out the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter and you will see authors hitting 50,000 words in two weeks…and in two years.

So how long should it take to write your book?

Stephen King claims to give up on a book if you can’t finish the first draft in three months. Others claim a book is rushed if it doesn’t demand years of your attention. But here’s the deal—

I used to run in Track & Field, and Track & Field taught me something important that I think the writing community could benefit from. (Stick with me for a second, okay?) I competed in races all year long. I thought I knew what the end-goal was in Track & Field… Whoever was fastest was the best. And the fastest girl on our team was a girl I’ll call Darla.

Darla was fast—like super fast—and since I was running long distance for the first time (when I was used to sprinting races), I tried to keep up with her. She was the fastest, after all, and I was able to run at her pace. (Not that I enjoyed it.) One time, while we were running a practice race (and I was majorly struggling), she turned to me and asked why I hadn’t found my own pace. My own pace. This concept blew my mind. I never considered how fast I “wanted” to run or what speed I was comfortable running. No way! I had only considered the start line, the finish line, and nothing in between…you know, because this was a literal race. But this was Track & Field. Your team isn’t judged for each little race, but rather all of your team’s races combined. It was about winning together as a team, not competing against one another, and above all, we were supposed to enjoy the run. (We were in seventh grade, after all, but twelve-year-old Shannon was just as competitive and way-too serious as modern me.)

That being said, I quit Track & Field the next year. Not because I wasn’t fast enough, but because I finally found my pace. And my pace was writing instead of running. Though, I admit running was still my exercise of choice growing up, I learned an important lesson from running that I’ve carried into my writing life.

Finding my own pace is key, not only for my health but also for my happiness.

If that means I write 50,000 words in two weeks, awesome. But it’s also awesome if it takes me two years.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with this. It took me two months to finish my first manuscript of 2017, including a significant amount of editing. Two months. And now I’m halfway through June without a second manuscript. That’s four months on one project. I’ve been working on it twice as long as my previous project, but I’m barely halfway through a first draft. (This is probably the opportune time to mention I’m slightly obsessive about numbers… and I’m a competitive person by nature, so I’ll turn anything into a competition, including competitions with myself. So, sigh…) I feel as if I’ve been writing sooooooo slowly. And I’m struggling with that confession.

As someone who is competitive, I understand how overwhelming seeing others’ word counts can feel. Sometimes, word counts can start to feel more important than feeling good about those words you wrote down. But I try to keep that Track & Field lesson in mind.

We’re in this together. Some of us will write 50,000 words in two weeks, some of us cringe at that idea, but we will all reach the “finish line” together. And the more we enjoy the middle, the better the “race” will feel. Though…I forgot to mention the most important fact about this post. Writing isn’t a race at all. This is a journey. There isn’t a set finish line. There isn’t even a solid start line. (I often can’t tell you when I first got an idea for a specific project, for instance.) But your happiness should matter. If it takes two months or two years, it shouldn’t matter. What matters is how much you enjoyed the writing process.

Find your writing pace, and enjoy your journey.

~SAT

Advertisements

The Sequel Can Wait

18 Oct

Announcements:

The third section of my interactive poetry series has begun, and you can read the first poem – Miscarriage – by clicking the title. Here are the opening lines:

If I hadn’t stepped outside, I would not

have seen the cloud buried deep in the approaching

storm I vaguely remembering hearing about.

(Vote, share, and comment for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.)

Special thanks goes out to The Incorrigible Reader for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 1 and book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, here. Find out why she said, “I really did love this series! It was intriguing, exciting, romantic, and so hard to put down!’ 

Another huge thank you goes out to SDAV Reads for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow. She describes both the character development and the world-building, but here’s a quote, “So even amidst some very serious fights, explosions, and runaway escapes worthy of Doctor Who, there is a lot of time spent with the emotions of the characters so that you end up feeling as connected to them as you ought to. They’re very well developed…If you like Dystopic books, or even if you don’t and you just want a good thriller, Take Me Tomorrow is certainly one to add to your shelf!” Read her full review here.

And I am thanking one more book blogger – Note to Selph Book Reviews – for also reading Take Me Tomorrow. You can read her full review by clicking the link, but here is a quote from her, “The overall plot was intriguing and exciting, filled with plenty of action running from police and sneaking out at night.”

I cannot thank you all enough! Please check out my books by clicking these links: Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow. If you write a review, let me know, and I will be sure to share it right here!

The Sequel Can Wait:

Before anyone freaks out, no, this is not about the release dates of Take Me Yesterday or Death Before Daylight. Not entirely anyway. Instead, it’s rather about the pressure writers can put on themselves to get the next book out – and fast – and how destructive it can be to the entire writing (and reading) experience.

You see, I once heard that authors nowadays are expected to release a novel every six months. I’ve actually heard this more than once, but I believe one of the times was during a discussion author, Ryan Attard, had on his podcast, The Lurking Voice. He was simply discussing this trend, not necessarily agreeing with it. I want to clarify that because I think the idea of getting a novel out every six months is fantastic. It’s just extremely difficult, and it should not be expected. Ever.

A lot goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world. Writing isn’t even half of it. Content editing is completely different than line-editing, and a line edit is different than just an edit. Those are just three types of editing, not to mention formatting for both an eBook or a paperback or – god forbid – the hours that go behind an audio book. And cover art! Geez. I could go on forever, and I’m not even talking about the amount of hours, people, or cost behind it all (or the fact that most of these people have second jobs).

1280px-Old_paper

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great if an author can get a book out every six months. It can be done, and it can, in fact, be professional. After all, four months passed between the release of Seconds Before Sunrise and Take Me Tomorrow (but that explanation is for another post). It can be done, and it can be done well, but that does not – by any means – mean that every author should do this. Unfortunately, especially in the Indie market, authors are often competing with one another (a rather ridiculous notion in itself, but moving on…) and I’ve seen a lot of arguments that authors can’t possibly release books that quickly.

Again, it can be done, but I think authors should pick their timelines based on nothing but themselves. Basing it on readers’ expectations can be really destructive. For instance, you might rush editing to meet a deadline, and now, there are more mistakes readers are picking out in your novels, but if you hadn’t been trying to meet a deadline, you might have been more careful.

I say this with great caution. I know that this topic can cause a lot of bad blood, but I am author, and I go through the pressures of releasing the next book every day. The pressures are mainly focused on three things: get it out quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I’ve lost sleep over it. I’ve worried I was going to lose readers if Death Before Daylight took an extra three months to release. I’ve given myself writer’s block over it. And let me tell you – it isn’t worth it.

How do I know this?

Well, to be quite honest, I don’t. I’m still learning, and I still mess up. I estimated that Death Before Daylight could be cut down to 80,000 words in content edits, and I’ve already surpassed it. That being said, this had added time to my timeline, so it will probably come out later than AEC has been anticipating, and I have been losing my little writer’s mind over it. I feel guilty, and a huge part of me feels irresponsible at timing, satisfying my readers, and estimating my work abilities. That is a hard pill to swallow. But it is even harder to realize it isn’t a pill I have to swallow. Things happen in this industry, and we must roll with the punches, and readers will, too.

In fact, the other day, one of my all-time favorite authors, Meg Cabot, announced she will be releasing book 7 of the Mediator in 2015. Just to let you all know, it has been 15 years since book 6 came out. 15. And you know what? Readers are ecstatic. I’m ecstatic. 15 years is nothing for a fan. Look at all the talk about Harry Potter coming back. That’s about 10 years, and everyone is practically begging for it. And The Mortal Instruments movie was canceled, but the T.V. show is coming out, and although some are reluctant, I think most fans will give it a shot.

Of course readers want the sequel now. I am a reader myself. I understand the anticipation. Waiting for City of Heavenly Fire was so painful I cannot even begin to describe the countdown on my iCalendar, but I still picked the book up when it finally did release, and I never held it against Cassandra Clare, and I will always be excited for the release of a sequel whenever it happens. But – sometimes – I forget that as an author. On the writer side of things, I tear myself down, but on the reader side, I am only filled with excitement, and I think every author can benefit by remembering the support readers feel for authors. That pressure to release the next book is not pressure. It is support. It is encouragement. It is an excited fan-base authors should be proud of, not worried about, and it is the next step to enjoying every release, no matter how long it takes.

No matter how much time passes, words are endless, and there will be someone to read them. 

~SAT

%d bloggers like this: